Serbian President Aleksander Vucic has nominated Ana Brnabic as the country’s next prime minister, making her the first openly gay premier in the Balkan region and the first Serbian woman in the top job.

“I decided to propose Ana Brnabic as prime minister-designate to the parliament of Serbia,” President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters. Brnabic’s government needs formal approval by Serbia’s parliament next week.

Vucic called the appointment “a difficult decision reached in the interest of Serbia and its citizens.”

Brnabic, who is known for her pro-European views, currently serves as Minister of State Administration and Local Government. Despite the pro-European stance of the new candidate, Vucic stressed that he instructed Brnabic to refrain from sanctions against Russia.

“I hope and I am confident that the government of Serbia will not support the sanctions against Russia — that was the policy of the administration, which I headed. And as the president I will recommend the same,” the Serbian president said.

Vucic stressed that he also instructed Brnabic and the new government to ensure that the relations of Belgrade with Russia as well as with China and the Arab states, among others, would be strengthened.

“It is important to ensure the further promotion of Serbia’s positions at the international scene, both in the West and in the East, on the way to the European integration, which is a strategic goal of the Serbian republic, as well as in the relations with Russia, China,” the Serbian president noted.

The need for a new head of Serbian government arose after Vucic left the post of prime minister following his election as president on April 2 this year.

The new Serbian government is likely to pursue a pro-Western policy, as the country’s President Alexander Vucic’s choice of candidate was influenced by the EU establishment, president of the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Voјislav Seselj told Sputnik.

“I want to see what composition of the government the bearer of the mandate will offer but obviously it will be even more pro-Western than has been so far,” Seselj said.

According to the opposition leader, it was not a coincidence that Bundestag President Norbert Lammert had paid Serbia a visit this week, which followed the recent visits of other European officials ahead of Brnabic’s nomination.

“Undoubtedly, Vucic was strongly pressured, and he demonstrated compliance…. What he did is not good for Serbia, and soon, I think, it will be bad for him, because you cannot sit on two chairs… We will vote against the candidacy [of Brnabic],” Seselj highlighted.

Brnabic, 41, was educated in the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2013, she was declared businesswoman of the year in Serbia.